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Western’s 2017-2018 Women’s Rugby team members. // Photo courtesy of Western Women’s Rugby Team

Nicole Martinson

Junior Madison Spradling had never played rugby before college.

Neither had sophomore Rose Bryers or senior Megan Stark. They were drawn in by the women’s rugby team’s camaraderie and challenging athletics.

“It was so welcoming and such a wonderful group of women that I was automatically drawn to it,” Spradling said. “I started playing fall quarter freshman year and fell in love. It’s a great group of girls, and I’ve really enjoyed being part of the team.”

As a freshman, Bryers easily adjusted to the new sport with help from her teammates. With a large inpouring of new players, most come in with little to no knowledge about rugby, Bryers said. She said although there is a steep learning curve, the team is great about helping players adjust and learn.

“I really like the team feel,” Bryers said. “It’s basically just 40 badass girls who all have each other’s backs on and off the field.”

Stark found comfort in the team as soon as she got to Western her freshman year.

“It’s like a big family,” Stark said. “Coming from out of state, I didn’t really know anyone. Joining the team, it was all of a sudden, I had a family of 30 people.”

As a backs captain, Stark works with the forwards captain to manage the spirit of the team and make sure the motivation is there for the players. She said it is a position of leadership where the team looks to you for advice.

Madison Spradling (Number 3) lifts up her teammate in a line-out during a game against University of Washington. // Photo courtesy of Western Women’s Rugby Team

Spradling was voted by her teammates to be president this upcoming season and said it is important for her to give back to her team and help them progress. The president’s role involves  logistics such as planning transportation and lodging for away games. Providing new players with a good example and giving them encouragement to try their best is important to being president, she said.

“I think that’s one thing the women’s rugby team does really well,” Spradling said. “Ensuring that all the players are comfortable, happy, safe and really showing solidarity between the women on the team.”

Bryers was voted vice president for the upcoming season and said one of the hard parts of playing a contact-heavy sport is the risk of injury. Broken and bruised ribs are common and can be hard to watch as a teammate.

Both the president and vice president are in charge of organizing group bonding events such as group training sessions, study sessions and banquet gathering

Bryers said those interested in joining the team should attend practice which starts fall quarter.

“Come check it out, because knowing how to tackle someone can be a confidence booster,” Bryers said. “It’s kind of a cool sport for women because it gives us that physical edge that you don’t see a lot in female sports. That’s one of the things I like about it.”

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